With Donald Penn now looking more and more like a former Raider, who will play left tackle for Oakland in 2016?
One scenario is pointing toward the Baltimore Ravens’ Kelechi Osemele to step into Penn’s spot.
Penn, a pending unrestricted free agent, has said he wants to remain a Raider. But the team and player apparently haven’t made any significant progress toward his return, and recently he removed all signs of the Raiders from his social media accounts, according to Levi Damien of SB Nation. His Instagram account profile has erased any reference to the Raiders, writes Damien, and it now reads: “Official Page of Free Agent Pro Bowl LT Donald Penn.”
Though Penn has played very well for the Raiders in his two seasons, he’s 32 now and apparently general manager Reggie McKenzie wants to go another direction. That direction could lead toward Osemele, a pending free agent in Baltimore.
Osemele has played both guard and tackle for the Ravens, and the Baltimore Sun’s Jeff Zrebiec reported recently it’s likely that Baltimore will be unable to afford to keep him. He’s been viewed as the Ravens’ left tackle of the future – and now that future could be in Oakland.
With an expected $70 million-plus available under the salary cap, the Raiders will have the money to spend in free agency this offseason, and ESPN.com’s Bill Barnwell wrote that the Raiders’ signing of Osemele, who is just 26, would be prudent.
“The one place GM Reggie McKenzie has consistently committed money to is the offensive line, so it would make sense for the Raiders to make a run at the best offensive lineman on the market,” he wrote. “Osemele could slot in at guard, but more likely the Raiders would try him as their replacement for Donald Penn at left tackle.”
Osemele was a second-round pick of the Ravens out of Iowa State in the 2012 draft and has been a starter at both guard and tackle in every season since.
Pro Football Focus rates Osemele, who started at left guard in 2015, as the third-best player in the potential class of unrestricted free agents. Wrote PFF: “The longtime Raven is entering the prime of his career and playing as well as ever after a slow start to 2015. Osemele has already proved to be one of the best run blockers in the entire league, with his ability to win at the point of attack setting him apart from other NFL guards.”